Typically the stories end at closing time. That’s when the tipsy diners stumble back home, the drunken discussions come to a halt and the last bite of dessert disappears.
Then again, the restaurant industry is hardly typical. And while television, glossy magazines and food festivals might show the glitzy side of the industry — the hot pan flashing, the sizzle of meat, the final garnishes — rarely does the public see the raw and gritty side of the show. The side that occurs after the last bill is paid, when pots and pans are washed, inventory counted, ingredients labeled and yes, floors mopped.
Edible takes a look at New York City restaurants behind these closed doors, photographing the late nights and early mornings at the food purveyors of this tireless city. This time: Louro, the West Village darling helmed by chef David Santos. We dropped by on October 11, 2013, right at 11:30 p.m., as the team finished up their last two tables of the night.
11:38 p.m.: With two more tickets to go, David Santos, Michael Bingham, and Emily Chapman finish the final plates.
11:49 p.m.: Santos and visiting chef Russell Jackson begin the cleanup process, putting away raw ingredients for the next day.
11:50 p.m.: Jackson plates the last set of desserts for the evening.
11:57 p.m.: Chapman scrubs down the griddle by hand.
12:01 a.m.: Santos finishes packing up leftover ingredients for the next day, meticulously labeling each container with the ingredient and date.
12:11 a.m.: Mahamadou Cisse and El Hadji Kebe helm the dishwasher, which runs around 75 times a night.
12:12 a.m.: Chapman packs up the pastas she made from scratch in five hours earlier that morning. She got in at 8:30 a.m. to start on the pastas. It’s been almost 16 hours.
12:16 a.m.: A sign in the kitchen, spelling out the job of every line cook in the house.
12:29 a.m.: Cisse takes a break as he waits for the dish cycle to finish up.
12:34 to 1:05 a.m.: Santos helms a meeting with Chapman and Bingham to go over and edit the next day’s menu. The three started the restaurant together, and while Bingham left recently to help out another friend, they remain close. “We all always leave together. Nobody is finished until we are all finished,” Santos said.
12:55 a.m.: Charles Gardner clears off the last table of the night, even as the bar services several stragglers.
12:59 a.m.: Bingham checks storage in the basement while Chapman finishes up cleaning in the kitchen, packing away the final ingredients. “The funny thing is, this is the glamorous part, when you’re not getting burnt or cut,” Chapman says.
1:06 a.m.: Cisse surveys the damage at the end of the night: the trash to be taken out, the floors to be mopped.
1:15 a.m.: And like any other job, Santos ends the evening at the computer, checking for emails and upcoming covers.